Archives for April 2016

WP Engine: The Best Managed WordPress Hosting

Choosing a hosting provider for your WordPress website is an important decision. In this article we will discuss some of the excellent features offered by WP Engine’s managed hosting service and why we recommend them to every client.

What is Managed WordPress Hosting?

Managed WordPress hosts specialize in hosting WordPress websites specifically and they offer special features like caching, staging for updates, easy backups and restores, and speed enhancements. They are generally helpful with WordPress issues, and they often have additional security features that other hosts don’t have. This is very different than traditional shared hosting where you simply rent storage on a server which may or may not be well designed to work with specific platforms or technology, and where you may feel left on your own if your site is hacked or you have a WordPress specific question.

When you should consider switching hosts:

When you start a new blog/website it’s normal not to think about things like server performance, traffic and security and often people looking for hosting only consider cost. You want to worry about the site’s appearance and what content to publish rather than the technical underpinnings of the server hosting your site, and that’s totally understandable. Often it is only after the site’s been up for sometime that issues with your server will begin to arise, and you may start to wonder about your choice of web hosing. Maybe your site slows down or you have down time, or goodness forbid your site gets hacked. Good quality managed WordPress hosting guards against these issues, and even though it tends to be a bit more expensive, it can save you a lot of hassle, and even money, in the long run.

Why is WP Engine the Best WordPress Hosting?

1. Designed for WordPress

WP Engine’s WordPress hosting is designed and optimized for WordPress websites specifically. They take care of every single piece of server optimization to ensure your website is living on the most fastest and best WordPress hosting platform possible.

2. The Best Customer & Technical Support

WP Engine’s technical team and customer support consist of WordPress developers and trained experts. The WP Engine support team is available 24/7 via phone, chat or support tickets. We can not emphasize enough how valuable it is to have a smart and knowledgable support team available for you (and your website) at any time. They are also extremely professional and friendly!

3. The Best  Security

WP Engine takes security very seriously. They monitor server traffic 24/7 and are able to prevent malicious traffic and attacks. In addition to real time monitoring and finely tuned server security, all WP Engine plans include daily backups and 1-click restore points. With WP Engine you are only 1-click away from your site being restored to a prior state if anything goes wrong.

4. Speed!

The WP Engine architecture and caching system ensures your site will perform at optimal speed and their architecture is continuously improved to reduce site load time. Additionally WP Engine can make use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to distribute your site data across a global network of servers to reduce geographic distance between your site visitors and your website data if you server a global audience.

5. One-Click Staging Websites

We can not emphasize enough what a valuable tool the one-click staging feature is. We LOVE it! A staging website is basically a copy or clone of your live website. One of the reasons we love the staging environment is that it gives our clients are safe and easy place to try out core and plugin updates or plugin additions before changing things on their live websites. This way, clients can take control of their own updates while maintaining confidence that  those updates will not break any functionality on their live website.

6. Free SSL Certificates with Let’s Encrypt

To top it all off, WP Engine now offers free SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt. With fast and easy configuration we appreciate how painless it is to configure SSL for any site on WP Engine.

TLC with WP Engine ♥

Your website is very much like a living thing. It needs care and love and maintenance. You probably spent many thousands of dollars investing in your new website, and you want your users to enjoy a fast and reliable experience when they visit it, while you want to maintain it in as pain-free a way as possible. This is where WP Engine comes in.

In closing, it may seem like spending $35/month on hosting is a lot, and with plans starting at $35/month WP Engine is not a “cheap” hosting solution. But with all of the great features, performance and support that WP Engine can offer, we believe that it is an excellent value.

WP Engine

How to Build an Accessible Web Slideshow (Slider)

There are several factors that contribute to making a slideshow accessible and inline with modern standards. First, the user needs to have the ability to keyboard navigate within the slideshow. This includes keyboard controls like previous slide and next slide. If there is text within the slide, keyboard navigation should allow users to tab into this text as well.

Secondly, a screen reader should be able to identify whether a user has tabbed into a slideshow, and identify which slide in the series is being displayed. Additionally, if there is text within a slide, a screen reader should be able to read this as well.

Though slider keyboard navigation could be developed entirely from scratch, one slider plugin in particular offers a robust javascript API that allows for custom functionality. That plugin is called Slider Revolution. Because keyboard navigation is so important to accessibility, Slider Revolution’s built in functions are very useful.

In the code below, navigation functionality for the previous and next slides are added.

In this case, Slider Revolution’s functions for next slide and previous slide can be bound to the left and right arrow icons on the slideshow. These slider controls can be used with a traditional mouse as well as keyboard navigation.

Speaking of keyboard navigation, the user will need to tab, or focus, into these new custom slider components. To accomplish this, the “tab-index” html attribute can be utilized. Tab index, as one might expect, allows the user to tab into an element on the page. A tab index of 0 uses the natural page flow to set the tab order. This makes the most sense for this particular use case.

This code example shows how to add both aria-labels and the tab index attributes to a slider.

Now that the slideshow is full navigable via mouse or keyboard, some screen reader enhancements can be made as well. Modern screen readers can identify where a user is on the page using aria labels. An aria label is an html 5 attribute that acts as a landmark that tells the screen reader to identify an element that’s getting focus. Aria labels can be added to the slideshow’s main container, the containers for each slide in the series, as well as text inside each slide. In the code above, an aria label is added to the main slideshow container using the .attr() method. With these aria labels attached, screen reader users will hear an audio cue confirming which element of the slide show is getting focus.

Combining all of these components adds up to a slideshow that’s more accessible than most!